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2 teens killed when truck plunges into Delaware River

By John Craven, Reporter, JCraven@wfmz.com
Published On: Jul 03 2013 09:51:09 AM CDT
Updated On: Jul 04 2013 05:34:41 AM CDT

Two teens killed in Warren County accident

POHATCONG TWP., N.J. -

Two teenagers were killed and a third hospitalized after their truck plunged nearly 30 feet into the swollen Delaware River. 

The accident happened early Wednesday morning in a remote section of Pohatcong Twp., Warren Co., N.J.

Lucille Sabo was about to spend Independence Day with her 14-year-old grandson, Tanner Sember.

"He was just a great, great kid," she said.

Now she is burying him.

"He's going to be dearly, dearly missed," said Sabo.

Sember and his friend, Jon "Jay" Gercie, 19, were killed when the truck they were riding in skidded off a narrow, winding stretch of River Road, just north of the Riegelsville bridge. The truck landed upside down in the Delaware River.

"They were out night fishing," said Sabo. "We don't know exactly what happened.  We've heard different things."

Sember attended Warren Tech. Gercie was a 2011 Phillipsburg High School graduate.

"He was a good kid," said friend Megan Burham.  "He was an outdoorsman. Everything you could do outside, he was dong it."

The only survivor is the driver, Luke Beebe, 18, who is now at St. Luke's Hospital in Fountain Hill, Lehigh Co., Pa., with back injuries.  Police said he was able to escape and alert a nearby bridge worker.

"We're not too sure how he got out of the vehicle, but thank God that he did," said Richard Burke, the Warren County prosecutor.

It's not clear why the three teens suddenly veered off the road.

"He tells us that he swerved to avoid another vehicle," said Burke.  "We haven't found that vehicle or haven't heard from anybody that was on the road."

Bebee told police he swerved to avoid a green car with New Jersey plates, according to Burke. Authorities are asking anyone who might have seen a car like that driving near River Road around 2:30 a.m. to give them a call.

Meantime, a close-knit community is now devastated at the deaths.

"Everybody's upset about it," said Morgan Howell, who knew the victims.  "People are blaming others."

Autopsies are pending on the two deceased passengers. 

Bebee, the driver, has lower back injuries, but Burke said he is expected to make a full recovery.

Burke said authorities are investigating whether speeding or alcohol played any role in the accident, but said at this time, there is nothing to indicate that.